Why don’t we repair goods any more?

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Why don’t we repair goods any more?

repairsHave you noticed that over the years, there has been a huge decline in businesses that actually repair things?

I know I’m knocking on a bit but when I was a kid, every high street had businesses that repaired clocks, shoes, furniture; there were stores that sharpened knives, made clothing alterations or fixed electrical appliances.

I just don’t see them any more.

A couple of years ago,our faithful coffee machine broke. It hadn’t been the cheapest model but it was impossible to find anyone to repair it. The manufacturer supplied spare parts but  how on earth was I supposed  to know what parts I needed?

Our only option was to throw it away. (We didn’t replace it. We got a cheap cafetiere instead).

But aren’t we more or less conditioned not to repair things these days? Isn’t it true that we are expected to buy a new product when an old one fails?

The only repair shops I see these days are for cars. Some, but not all, jewellers will repair broken earrings or brooches. Some, but not all, dry cleaners will also perform (or out source) repairs and alterations. There are still some specialists who will repair rare items such as first edition books or valuable antique clocks.

But mostly, we’re conditioned to simply throw things away

Many times on the beach I’ve seen a pair of discarded sandals – thrown away simply because the flip has separated from the flop. (And that’s so easy to fix). I see umbrellas thrown into street trash cans. Often, garments are simply thrown away rather than repaired. (Or at least,they should be torn up and used for rags).

In her sewing box, my old mum used to have a wooden ‘mushroom’. This was for darning socks. Does anyone darn any more? Not too many years ago, I had to show a twenty eight year old (yes, twenty eight, not eight) how to hem a skirt. I sharpen my knives by swiping them this way and that on the doorstep.

I get bothered when I see what people have put out by the road when it’s bulk pickup day. I want to rescue it all, fix everything and start a store. And although I object to the title of the book on the right, we should all know how to fix stuff.

This is not just a male preserve – I’m the fixer in our household. This doesn’t mean that I have power tools and a battery of DIY materials – duct tape, a hammer, a sharp knife (sharpened on the doorstep, of course) and a can of WD40 will fix so many things.

Isn’t the idea of a ‘throwaway society’ pretty dated now?





Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. I agree. It’s really difficult to find a knowledgeable person to repair items today. I have an electric tea kettle I’ve been trying to find a way to repair for ages. It would cost about half the value of a new one to ship it to the official repair shop, MAYBE get it fixed, which is not guaranteed to last, and ship it back to me. Ugh.

    Have you heard of Repair Cafe (http://repaircafe.org/)? I see there isn’t one in Florida yet. You might have to start a local group!

    • That’s a great tip, Kathryn. Thank you. Starting a local group or register is a great idea. I’m sure that there ARE people out there – it’s just a case of locating them.

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